IDF should implement new American combat fitness test - Senior officer

Head of IDF's Combat fitness department: "I can only imagine what it would do to for our young fighters.”

Col.Avi Dahan with his American counterparts. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
Col.Avi Dahan with his American counterparts.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
The head of the IDF’s combat fitness department would like to see the new American Army Combat Fitness Test implemented in the IDF, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
“It’s a very challenging obstacle course which makes you get over the fears you may have, be it water or heights,” Col. Avi Dahan, the head of the IDF’s combat fitness department told the Post.
“It brings you to the edge of what you can do, physically and mentally. I did it and I saw how it affected me, and I’ve served 26 years in the military. It was mentally challenging, and I can only imagine what it would do to for our young fighters.”
Dahan spoke to the Post after returning from a week in the United States along with two other IDF officers to learn from the US Army at their combat fitness school at Fort Jackson and the US Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, both in South Carolina.
During the delegation’s visit they learned about basic combat fitness exercises, military combat nutrition, exercise methods, as well as the rehabilitation process for soldiers injured from drills and how to make the rehabilitation process easier for them.
The US Army has developed a new physical fitness test aimed at preparing soldiers for real-life combat situations. The current test, in place since 1980, has three main physical tests which need to be completed within two hours including sit-ups, push-ups and a 3.2-km. run.
In comparison, the new test, designed to make soldiers more fit and ready for combat, will have to be completed in one hour and will see recruits tested on three repetition deadlifts, standing power throws, hand-release pushups, sprint-drag-carries, leg-tucks and a 3.2-km. run.
The test, which will be implemented in both the US Army and Marine Corps by 2020, will not make any adjustments for women or older recruits like the previous test. The six exercises aim to improve a soldier’s readiness for combat, reduce preventable injuries, enhance mental stamina and transform the army’s fitness culture.
Gen. Stephen Townsend, head of US Army Training and Doctrine Command, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying in early February that the new test “may be harder but it is necessary” as many commanders have complained in recent years that soldiers coming out of basic training couldn’t meet the physical demands of combat such as carrying a wounded soldier or carrying heavy equipment.
According to Dahan, there is “almost no difference” between recruits in the US Army or Marine Corps and the IDF.
“The three armies are dealing with the same challenges. You can see almost no difference of the physical situation of new recruit. We are all dealing with the same challenges of modern society. The only difference is that the IDF is a conscript army while the others are not,” he said.
“The three armies are going through a process which is going from focusing solely on aerobic components such as running or swimming to aerobic, anaerobic (agility, speed) and strength training (upper body and lower body muscles and core muscles).
“This concept of balancing aerobic, strength, and anaerobic should also be enhanced in the IDF,” Dahan said, stressing that Israel’s military should also implement the importance of physical culture among fighters and commanders.
“The physical culture [in the United States] is amazing,” he said, explaining “Every morning while we were there we started at 5 a.m. with a run with the base commander... If you want to build physical strength in your troops, you have to start with a good example, the commander.”